What you still don't know about Bruno

If you’ve got kids of a certain age, you’ve probably had the experience of passively (sometimes actively) having the same song, or show, or movie play in the background dozens of times. Young kids seem to really enjoy the familiar, and after the tenth or twentieth time through Encanto, with We Don’t Talk About Bruno echoing in your skull, surely there’s nothing in there you haven’t seen, heard, and subsequently half-maddeningly hummed to yourself while driving across town.

Right?

But on that thirtieth time through, there’s still something new to be seen. The expression on a Dolores' face in the background while others speak of Mariano’s engagement, informed by your knowledge of the plot to come. The fourtieth time: the particular way voices interweave that one place in that one song. Something new on the fiftieth. A new appreciation; a deeper understanding.

And this is a cute kids movie. It’s good, but let’s not fool ourselves that there’s more depth here than anywhere else in our lives: you’re getting all that repetition because it’s easy to get given your current circumstances.

All that complexity is happening everywhere, right now, all across your life. It’s in the subtle variation of the texture of the air we breathe. It’s in the way a stranger notices (or doesn’t) the way you step onto a bus, or into a shop.

And we can’t take it all in. We can’t: we’d cease to function as laypeople. So we filter this all down and reduce to patterns and match on them. That’s how our ancestors caught prey and avoided becoming it themselves. It’s how we get through another sprint meeting, another periodic 1:1, and prepare for an interview: we prepare, we get good at the patterns, and we match on them. And, by and large, that’s served us pretty well.

But it’s worth taking a minute to consider: what are you missing, right here in this moment, that might be worth investing a little time in re-examining? …that might be worth getting a little bit more depth?

Here’s the thing: we’re spending eight-ish hours every day doing largely the same work. Over time we get really efficient at it by refining our pattern matching, and that’s largely desirable. But we’re working in our lives and working with other people living theirs, and there’s something magical about discovering the nuance and depth available even in the midst of this daily routine. So tomorrow, pick a time, and when you’re right in the middle of the moment, consider: what’s everything that’s happening right now, especially the subtle stuff in the background that would normally go unappreciated? You might surprise yourself.

Did that make your day a little better?

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